All Randon Clark has ever known is the church. Growing up, living, and working for the church, Randon has found it to be an extension of the family. Eventually becoming pastor, his relationship with God has grown even deeper. Randon candidly shares about being a Pastor for so long and coming to face with the union of ministry and business. Reflecting on the wisdom from the Old Testament in today’s modern society, Randon shares his thoughts about the attack on religion, how access to information and the dawn of social media affect Christianity, and where it stands in politics.
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Religion, The Old Testament, And The Dawn Of Information with Randon Clark
I appreciate you being here on our next version of The Byrd Chronicles where law means life. Before you came in, Christie said, “What are you all talking about?” I said, “Do you know Randon?” She said, “Isn’t he a preacher?” I said, “He’s a preacher.” She said, “What are you talking about? Is it law-related?” I said, “We’re going to talk about little baby Jesus.” It got her a good laugh. Her next question was, “What religion?” I said, “He’s a Muslim.” He could be a Muslim but he’s not. If you looked at Randon Clark, you wouldn’t pick him out.
I’ve never been accused of being Muslim before.
For a lot of people reading this, probably they’re going to know you. You are a pastor.
I am pastor at Triumph Church in Sugarland, Texas, which is southwest part of Houston. I’ve been pastoring for many years now. I moved to Houston and I love what we do. The truth is there are a lot of intersections between law and religion.
That’s why I wanted to have you in. Before the show, I said there would be no need for me. You’d be in the small community particularly as a priest or a pastor. You’d be everything. Thankfully I don’t know that I’d make it as a pastor, but it seems I’m making it as a lawyer so far.
You see this intersection all throughout scripture. Even in the New Testament, you see pastors or leaders in the church would step in to help members of the church. Instead of going to have a lawsuit, the church would step in and try to negotiate or mediate situations. You can say it all the way to the first of scripture. If you go all the way back to the Book of Exodus, you see when God took the Israelites out of Egypt. He brought them out of Egypt. They’d been slaves for 400 years. The first thing He does is He takes them out in the wilderness and He starts giving them laws. It’s not because God was trying to give them a list of do’s and don’ts, but He was trying to teach them how to live as a proper society.
They didn’t know. They lived as slaves. It’s all they knew and now God is giving them what turns into over 630 Laws of Moses. Many of them were not even just how to interact with God. They were, how to be a people, how to be a community, how to function without fighting all the time. How to treat your neighbor. You think about The Ten Commandments. The first portion is about how we interact with God. The second half of The Ten Commandments are all about how you treat your neighbor, don’t kill, don’t steal. The foundation even of our government and our constitution, you see it all the way back in the book of Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus and Numbers where a lot of these things came from. There’s always been this intersection of what we see in the Bible and yet what we’re living every day.
Let’s talk a little bit about you for those who may be here not knowing you. How’s your lovely wife doing?The temptation is in difficult days. Regardless of your business, the temptation tells you to turn and run and take an easy way out. Click To Tweet
My wife’s amazing. We celebrated sixteen years of marriage in January 2019. I way up-kicked my coverage. There’s no doubt about it there. I’ve got two kids. I’ve got a daughter who’s a freshman in high school and she’s wonderful and intelligent and people like her. She loves God, so these things are all good. She’s making good grades. I’ve got a son who’s a fifth grader. He’s eleven and he’s everything you could ever want out of a son. He loves people. He manipulates his mom. He calls her cupcake and gets anything he wants out of her.
He’s always been the favorite.
You didn’t hear that from me. I’m blessed I’ve got two great kids and a beautiful wife. Life’s been good.
You’ve been in this calling for seventeen years and you’re still a relatively young man. We’ve known each other for a long time now. I see a few more grays and I’m sure I’m showing them too. A few more wrinkles and I’m showing them too. You started pastoring as a full-time profession at a young age.
My family founded Triumph Church in Nederland, Texas in 1983 when I was a kid. All I’ve ever known is the church. I’ve had a number of different side jobs and things, but primarily all I’ve ever done is work for the church. I got involved in ministry when I was young. Even in high schools, I was leading our youth ministry and working in a number of areas. By the time I was eighteen, I was producing a national television show for our church. It was in the air multiple times a week. This is all I’ve known my whole life. My wife and I did youth ministry here locally. Traveling all over the world, preaching youth conferences and camps and things for many years before we progressed to adult ministry. We became what we would call campus pastors or lead pastors and have been doing that ever since.
It’s almost like you started in the cradle then.
We did. This is all I’ve ever known. I had a great life growing up and we grew up in the church and for me, the church was an extension of family.
I have good days and I have bad days as a lawyer. I try to have more good days than I have bad but I think so far, I have more good days than bad. On those bad days, sometimes this gets old a little bit. Does it ever get old for you, what do you do?
I would like to sit here and tell you it never gets old and I love my job every day. You said earlier you don’t want to call my calling business, but the truth is there is a business aspect to everything that I do. As much as any of us love our jobs, there are parts of it we don’t like to do and don’t want to do, but you have to do them. There are times when one of the biggest things that we do is serve people and help people and that’s not always fun. Sometimes that’s long hours at a hospital. Sometimes that’s trying to help someone save their marriage in the middle of a terrible situation. Sometimes that’s difficult conversations and difficult meetings. Sometimes that’s a disappointment. There are absolutely those days. One of the reasons is in difficult days, regardless of your business, the temptation is to turn and run, take an easy way out. The apostle Paul writes to us, “Don’t grow weary while doing good.” He talks about keep doing the right things, keep planting the right things and you’ll eventually reap right things. You’ll harvest right things. You have to keep that in mind.
Some days you go home and you’re like, “I’m a failure as a preacher. I’m a failure as a pastor.” The other day as you go home and you feel like you did a great job. I’m a huge baseball fan and softball fan as you know. I’ve had the chance to coach both of our daughters for a number of years, but one of the things my dad has always taught me is in baseball it’s about batting average, not getting it. No one gets a hit every time you go up. It’s about understanding to manage your failures and celebrate your victories. That’s what he taught me about ministry and business, but it applies everywhere. You’re going to have failures in life. Everywhere you go, you’re going to have what you define as bad days. Can you manage them? What’s your batting average?
That’s where we found out what our character is and what we’re made of. I liked that baseball analogy because you can hit three out of ten for fifteen-year career and go into the Hall of Fame. Seven out of ten times you were failing. You struck out or worse. It showed your temper or did something that you probably shouldn’t have. Just for everybody out there, we did not meet at church. We did meet through our daughters when they were probably seven or eight years old.
Kennedy was six. I think Mallory was probably seven or so when we first met. It’s been awhile.
I’ll go ahead and put this out there. Randon holds a special place in my heart for a personal reason. In addition to being a great guy with my daughter and all these things. A few years ago, my dad was pretty sick. I’m sure you’ll remember it. He was terminally ill with cancer and we thought he was going to die the next day at that stage. I know that’s a terrible way to put it, but the prognosis wasn’t good and it was about to get bad. Even I had talked on and off and he was a crotchety old man by that point. He had never been a real religious person as far as church attendance and things of that nature, but he was a spiritual character. He’d been taught a lot of principles you probably teach in your church at a young age and carried through life and through tough times of his life. He was no saint, but we had talked.
Something was tugging at me. I want somebody to check on him. He had moved far away from where he’d lived his whole life. I said, “Randon, will you think about stopping by one day?” That’s all we talked about. A few weeks went by and you called me and you were like, “I’m going to come by and see your dad.” What’s crazy is that day, my mom had gone back to get the last few personal items after they had sold their home and moved 250 miles away from where they’d lived for years. She asked me to sit over there with him. We sat over there. I was there probably fifteen, sixteen hours. I can’t tell you the last time I spent fifteen or sixteen hours, just him and me together if ever. Ironically, you came by that day and you came and visited with him and he talked crazy to you. You handled him well.
The next morning my mom called me first thing, she got out of bed and she went to the kitchen and he had a stroke and died. It was pretty powerful to me, your friendship and your willingness to come by. It was important to him, even though he didn’t act like it, because that was the last opportunity for him to say, “I’m good with me. I’m good with God,” because he said that. “I’m good with my life. I’m good with the bad. I’m okay with the good.” It was almost the proverbial making of peace. You always stick as extra special for me for you coming by and an important part of his life, even though it was an hour that you got to spend with them.
I appreciate that, Jason. I remember him trying to catch me a few times. I wouldn’t expect anything less, but wonderful conversation. I wasn’t expecting to get the call from you the next day. I’m sure glad I was able to get by and spend a little time with him and you guys and get to meet him. Hopefully, it will be of some help to him. He felt like he was good, but just taking a look at your life and making sure and not everybody gets that opportunity, but it was a good day.Keep planting the right things and you'll eventually reap right things. Click To Tweet
Enough of that. You’re going to get me sentimental and sad and even have one of these tears fall out of this big old man. We talked very briefly before the show and I wanted to ask you along these lines that some people will say from different perspectives, that 2019, there’s an attack on religion out there. Generally, what do you think? Is there an attack by the government or by society or culture or what?
In general, you can track throughout history and there’s always been an attack on Christianity. I don’t know that Christianity is under attack as anything new per se. There are some new tactics and I think that certain people that are against Christianity and Christian ideals. They’ve gotten louder and gained some significant influence over policy and policymakers in our country. The advent of social media has all types of positive things. I utilize social media in multiple forms. These are wonderful things. I’m not anti-social media. One of my mentors says it gives every mouse a microphone.
That’s what it does. If we’re not careful, we can watch social media, maybe watch the news, maybe listen to a few people. I think that represents the masses, but that isn’t always the case. There are great things that are happening in Christianity in this country. Depending on what metrics you’re looking at to define that, there are lots of positive things that we can look at. You would be unwise to not look at some of the things and some of the policies. I know we’re not going deep into politics but there are things that come, in my opinion, directly against Christian values and the principles of the word of God, but it’s always been there. That’s not a new thing. It’s just some people have a bigger microphone. They have more influence.
In addition to the microphone and the social media, what do you think access to information, in general, has an effect on? What I mean by that more particularly is years ago, the literacy rate was very low and there weren’t a lot of books and things out there. The advent of the printing press changed that to a large degree. Mass distribution of the Bible, the most widely distributed book I believe in the history of the world. That’s been put on steroids now with the internet. My eleven-year-old can get online with the snap of a finger and read all types of scientific information and whatnot. How has that affected Christianity?
If you’d go back to where you were just talking about the church, I won’t get specific about what church is it. You can read it in history. The church was using illiteracy to control access to God and religion. It was used in a negative way. It’s why long after no one was speaking Latin in general, services were still done in Latin. The lack of access to information was being used by the church in a negative way. Now, we see the flip side of that. When you talk about the access to information, I like information. I read lots of things. I listen to lots of things. There was a commercial on TV a few years ago, maybe it was a car insurance commercial or something. These two people are talking and the result of the conversation was the girl was about to go on a date with some guy. The guy walks up and she says he’s a French model or something like this. The guy walks up and he’s clearly not a French model.
The guy says, “Where did you read that?” She says, “The internet. Everything you read on the internet is true.” Everything you read on the internet is not true. If we’re not careful, we can go to that point. If you don’t know who you’re reading and what you’re reading, so many facts of life can be interpreted through someone’s lens. If all you read is their lens, all your read is their opinion, that’s assuming that you chose the correct facts. They could have made up facts. I love the access to information, I guess is my point, but at the same time we have to be careful that we’re not repeating someone else’s either made up story or their personal opinion and interpretation of a story.
I hear that narrative a lot and I hear it in terms of fake news, false account or stuff like that. What’s so hard for me is where to draw the line on skepticism. When you have what you believe to be legitimate information, someone to discredit as well, “That’s fake.” How do we back up that narrative at all? How do we deal with that when you tell me this is rooted in history and in the Bible? I go and look at it and say, “No, that’s just your interpretation.” That’s a fake interpretation. That narrative is so comprehensive. It feels like culturally right now.
I flip back and forth between news stations. It just funny to me to watch an event taking place in two news stations and they tell the story completely differently.
I stopped watching the news on television on a regular basis a few years ago. It’s not because I have a certain perspective that I don’t want to hear anything against it. I didn’t have the bandwidth anymore for everything I have going on in my life. In addition to try and decipher what’s jaded, what’s not jaded, from any perspective, much less one that I felt like agreed with what I believed on any certain topic. That’s frustrating. For 40 years, I spent 15, 20, 30 minutes into the day early in the morning. It lets me catch up on what’s going on. It’s hard to do that anymore. I don’t think you and I are going to fix that.
I try to use multiple resources. When I was in college, my minor was in Theology. At the time, my major was in Theology, it turned out to be a minor. One of the things they made us do, and it frustrated me at the time, was they made us take a class on world religions and outside of Christianity. We’re at a Christian university, but they brought in professors from other religions to come teach us the leading five or six religions around the world. I didn’t understand it at the time. What I learned through the class and after the class was I didn’t know what I believed until I heard the other side of the story. I had to listen and read and study before I knew what I believed as a Christian. I had to go study the other religions because it’s very easy to say, “This is what I know. This is what I believe,” and point to the rest of the world and say they’re all crazy. I’m talking about religion right now and you can take this. How many people do we know on both sides of the aisle that just believe what they believe because it’s what their parents told them to believe, but they’ve never studied the issue at all? A poll told them to believe it. We have access to information. We ought to study if there’s something that you want to learn about, go study all sides of it.
My eleven-year-old will tell you with regard to your study of all the religion, “How do we know who’s right? Are we just gambling? I show up to church and I do everything that we’re trying to teach. Here we go and here comes my judgment day. The Buddhists had it right. What then?” Those are questions I have a hard time answering. Nobody asks me these types of questions, but I get questions like this from him.
That’s an important question. I would encourage them to study and try to find God for himself. I can say a lot of things about Christianity. You can point to the historical evidence, you could point to a lot of things. At the end of the day, for me it’s about a personal experience, not just historical evidence.
That’s what I tried to tell his mom, but as a mother, I don’t think that’s very comforting to her.
No, it’s not. When you start searching for God, most people find Him. If he starts a genuine search, I don’t think it’s going to take long for him to. He’s eleven. I have an eleven-year-old as well. Jesus talked about letting the little children come to Him. God cares about kids. If our eleven-year-old or nine-year-old or eight-year-old is genuinely seeking God, they’re going to find Him. That’s my opinion.
I’m bringing this up because it’s a real issue that I hadn’t seen, but I would talk to you about. He’s very scientific and logically minded. He just is. Kid can tell you anything about nature, reptiles, animals, how stuff works. He’s probably gifted in those areas. That’s how he thinks. He questions things. It’s natural for him to question things. I think in a lot of respects, that teaching as a young child he gets are dumbed down versions of allegories or other stories or whatnot. They’re made child-like and he says, “Don’t me give me some BS story. Give me the goods.” That’s his attitude. I haven’t been probably consistent enough with some charge, but he goes to an Episcopal school. They go to chapel every single day. That’s part of why all three of my children have gone there, is to fortify that at least something, a routine. Some of the routine in religion is good for the human condition. He questions these things. Sometimes I’m not capable of answering it.
I’m not surprised he question things. I happen to know his father for a number of years now. I’m not saying it’s your fault. There’s no problem with questioning God. There’s no problem with approaching God from a scientific standpoint. Lots of people have done this and still find God. To me, science doesn’t disprove God at all. There is a place where you have to come to in your life where a person has to choose faith. You said a while ago what happens if we were wrong? I don’t believe I’m wrong. There came to a place in my life where I looked at all the evidence. I surveyed all the evidence and I approached God from a scientific standpoint. I approached God from a historical standpoint. I approached God from an experiential standpoint, and you line it all up and you say, “This is what I believe. This is what I feel and I’m going to choose to live by faith.”In this age of social media, every mouse is a microphone. Click To Tweet
In my business, play the proverbial devil’s advocate, someone might say, “I appreciate your evaluation but when you started that evaluation, you were biased.” You were biased because the day you came out of the womb up into that point, this is the environment that you are preached about and taught and lived. You are biased, so you couldn’t have a fundamentally full examination of are we right here?
There’s no doubt I was biased. I won’t argue that at all. Truthfully, I’m glad I was biased. If you don’t want to take my word for it, no problem. We talked about information a while ago. There are lots of information from people who weren’t biased and who did approach it from the same standpoints. Go read their word. Go read their studies. Go read their findings. If you don’t want to take my notes, I’m not offended by that in any way. I don’t deny that I was biased. I do think that I came into a relationship with God on my own. There was points in my life where it’s transitioned between what my parents believed and what I believed. As I grew up, I love my parents and they’re the biggest influencers in my life, no doubt about it. Yet as I grew up, I began to discover things on my own, what I believe, where I land on certain issues. Sometimes that’s a little different than the people around me and that’s okay.
I’ll tell you what, Randon Clark, I know you’re not perfect because you’re human, but I’ll tell people one thing about you. You’re a straight shooter. That goes a long way. I don’t care what you do. I was messing with you a little bit about you being biased and you said, “I’m biased.” I like that.
My dad’s probably the most honest person I know. He taught me to be that way. People like it or don’t like it.
You were Head pastor of the Beaumont Triumph Church for a number of years.
I was at Beaumont for a long time. We had two campuses, one in Beaumont and one in Nederland. My wife and I were the lead pastors of those two campuses for about five and a half years, then we swapped. We now have one campus in Houston and then my dad’s over here with these two.
How is that leaving a flock or go into a new congregation? That would be hard. I would think there’s a lot of good folks that you feel like you’re leaving.
As much as I love where I’ve lived and been raised, I don’t have negative things to say about our area. I love our city. I love our new life. I love our new house. I love our new school. I love everything about it. Don’t you hate the traffic? Not at all. I love it all, but leaving people was tough. What I wish I could have done it was take all of the relationships we had and move everyone with us. You don’t get that luxury in life, but leaving people was tough. I had a chance to spend some time with some young guys that have been interning for us for the last few years. They came over with us and did a youth service. Just getting to hang out with them for a couple of hours was refreshing.
There are some disciplines in Christianity that think that geographical change and other change is good for not only the pastors but also for the congregations.
There are a number of denominations that move you intentionally. Methodist, I’m fairly certain it’s maybe every two to four years. I can’t remember exactly.
It varies by bishop but it’s consistent.
Fairly consistently. In the world I grew up in, that doesn’t tend to be the case. Churches tend to be more independent rather than belonging to a denomination. A founding pastor tends to stay many years. I don’t argue good or bad for the people. This is what it is and this is what we felt like God was leading us to do. If we’re doing what God is leading us to do with a genuine heart, I believe He’s going to bless it and take care of his people. We’re all God’s people anyway. He’s going to take care of us all.
You’re a Christian pastor. Is there a denomination you would put your church in?
We’re non-denominational. If you say what denomination are you closest to? I would say something like Assembly of God. We would have a pretty similar doctrinal stance. We’re non-denominational, therefore you’re non-denominational spirit-filled, love God, love family. We put a lot of emphasis on kids. We have a fairly high energy service. I don’t do a lot. I’m not like a big shouter, but we love to sing, we love to worship. I like to have fun when I preach, so I tend to tell more stories and laugh a little bit and push the envelope a little bit.
A lot of folks say, “How is this young guy? What’s he going to preach about?” I’ve been to a few services and you do a good job at it. The kicker is my mom. She’s probably about the same age as your parents. She loves going to your service. She’s not a big church goer. Her only knock was she said a lot of times, “I feel like I’m the old lady in the crowd,” but that’s not the case. You’ve got folks of all ages, races, shapes, sizes, colors, everything. Do you still do an online stream of your service?
Every Sunday morning you can go to TriumphChurch.com and you’ll find our stream there, 10:30 we go live. We have our messages on Facebook Live, Triumph Sugarland and Stafford. You can’t stream your worship on Facebook, your songs, services or whatever you might call it.We ought to study all sides if there's something that you want to learn about. Click To Tweet
They block you and threaten you because we don’t own the rights to the music. We pay a company that we are allowed to sing them, but we’re not allowed to post us singing it on Facebook.
It’s the music rights, not the religious aspect.
No, it’s not about the religious. If it’s our song that we wrote, we can do it but we can’t sing someone else’s song. If you’re looking on Facebook, you won’t see our music, but it will come live at about 11:00 AM every Sunday.
How do these churches get that broadcast on TV get away with that?
There are certain levels that you can get of licensing and you’ve got to pay royalties. Most churches don’t want to do that, understandably so. We do pay companies, we do pay a measure of royalties, but it’s like you pay and you get to sing it, but you don’t pay every time it plays on the radio. You’re not sending a royalty to whoever wrote the song every time you sing it on a Sunday morning.
We said we’re not going to get much into politics but just lightly, what’s the role of religion in politics now from your position?
From my standpoint, first of all, is I love our country. I love being an American. I’m proud to be American. I’m not proud of necessarily everything we do or have done. We have our flaws as a nation as we have flaws as people. I love being an American. For me personally, before I’m an American, I’m a Christian. I’m a Christian American. I’m full-blooded American. I never want to leave here. I don’t ever want to live anywhere else. I pray that God never calls me somewhere else. When I build the lens through which I view all things, not just politics, but everything from how I treat people to how I coach a softball team, to how I choose to respond to any political situation. It’s going to look through the lens of scripture first.
That’s where it starts with me. As Christians, that’s where it should start. What does the Bible say on a certain subject? When you look at certain subjects, they’re not always verbatim in scripture. What do you do on this? What do you do on that? You have to look in and you have to find the principles of the word of God. You have to use some judgment. I have lots of friends that lineup on different issues in different ways. People in the church, people out of the church. I’d be willing to bet that if you and I went down a list of items right now, we’d find some we disagree on. Yet that doesn’t mean that I still have a mandate from a biblical standpoint on how we connect or how I should treat you.
There’s a basic decorum in how you believe you should operate. There’s a deterioration in my mind in the public sphere of that basic decorum. You know me, I cuss, I smoke, I drink. I used to like to fight but now it’s mostly with paper and words, but I still believe there are certain levels of human decorum. I don’t watch the news anymore and that’s a lot of it. I can’t take the nonsense in the decorum. It’s a breath of fresh air for me to hear that coming from you, saying there’s a basic decorum, whether I’ve got to maintain myself when dealing with other people. How do we get that back? I think we used to have that.
One of my big frustrations is we’re fighting for the sake of fighting, not fighting for some commonplace that we can get to, to make our country better. This is the biggest frustration that I have is no one’s listening. It’s who can yell the loudest, who can get the most likes on social media, who can take parts of four different speeches that someone made, put them together to make it sound like they said something that they didn’t, to prove your point. As I’m saying this, I’m not choosing sides. I’m thinking of multiple issues and multiple sides of an issue where this is what we do. This is commonplace. I wish we could get to a place where we could put intelligent people in the room from both sides of an argument and come to a place and have a real conversation that we could move. I feel like there are lots of problems in our country that are solvable problems and we don’t solve them. We just fight. We wait two years and we vote again, and we fight some more.
Everything starts local and it starts in communities. I like hearing that from a local pastor with a sizable congregation and it holds himself to those standards. It’s funny because when it gets close to election time, I always see more local politician showing up to church. At some churches, they’ll even come in and get to talk and the preacher will give an endorsement. Sometimes implied, sometimes very direct. How do you do that at your church or do you do any of that at all?
Very little. The mayor of the actual city where my campus is located at sent one of his aides out and the mayor wants to come by and greet the congregation on Sunday morning. Apparently, he’s been there for 40 years but that may not be exact. He’s never been opposed and now he’s being opposed having to run a campaign. I’ve never heard from the mayor as far as I know. We’ve had that church for several years, that campus and no one’s ever heard from the mayor. All of a sudden, he wants to see us. I’m probably not going to do that. I don’t know him. I don’t know what he stands for. I don’t know who he is and I’m probably going to avoid that subject. With that, that doesn’t mean we’ve always avoided it. If I know the guy, if I know what he stands for, I don’t normally just give you the mic and say, “Go make your political speech.” That’s not what I do.
In our different churches, we have a number of people that run for office. We’ve had everything from school board members to city council members to mayors and everything in between. For me, this is a big part of what we should do as Christians and as believers, is we ought to run for office. We ought to look for opportunities to help our city, help our community, help our nation. We should do these things. If one of our members runs for city council and is elected or schoolwork president and is elected, we’re going to celebrate that. I think this is a great thing. Get someone with what I hope in those situations and the ones I’m thinking about right off the top of my head. I know they have good values. They’re not seeking power, but they’re out trying to do something good for their community. We should celebrate these things.
I appreciate that. That’s an easy one if the guy has been in your church for five years and you know him. What if his opponent comes in and says, “I want to introduce myself,” did that happen?
Over the years we have.When we limit the blessings of God to just financial, we are limiting what God wants to do in our life. Click To Tweet
I’m genuinely asking. I would have no idea how to deal with that.
My dad, over the years, has dealt with it more than I have. I don’t have a policy of handing people the mic and letting them talk about their agenda.
That’s probably the best policy.
I don’t do that. I will tell you that we’ve had a number of people run for offices. We might pray over them. I might talk about them. I might say if you live in this city, go see them. Go find out what they’re all about, do your research. Just pray for him. If they are elected, some have been, some didn’t make it. I’ve found it very important. I’d pray for anybody who is elected and wants to come to our church and say, “Will you pray for me?”
I’ve heard this term, The Prosperity Gospel, before.
I’m very well-aware.
Do you have a picture of Joel Osteen in your hand?
Not Joel. He’s not necessarily a Prosperity Gospel preacher, but I’ve got four or five other ones.
For those who may not be familiar, what am I referring to?
There’s a principle in the Bible where it talks about sowing and reaping. Whatever you sow, you’re going to reap or reap a harvest on the multiplied form. The Prosperity Gospel, and I’m going to give you my opinion here, I want to be very careful. I don’t like to attack other forms of Christianity. In my opinion, what you would define as the Classic Prosperity Gospel, it’s not all wrong, but it’s gone to an extreme where personally, I believe they went too far. When you start preaching that God wants you to live in a mansion and have a private helicopter and seventeen cars, I think we’ve gone too far. That’s not what scripture says. The Bible talks a lot about the blessings of God. When we limit the blessings of God to just financial, to numbers, to money, to tangible things, we are limiting what God wants to do in our life. I’m not rich. I don’t have tons of money, but I’ve got a great family. There’s no amount of money you could pay me to trade money for the blessing of God on my life that I have an amazing wife and two kids that are as great as they could be.
You are rich in those ways.
I am rich in those ways. I think that when we preach about the material things too much, not that they aren’t in there. One of the missing things about the scripture is that many of our biblical heroes were not pastors. They were businessmen. They were ranchers and they were kings.
I don’t know the Bible as you, but the only thing that ever comes to my mind when I talk about this is the Jabez prayer. It’s in the Old Testament, I believe, in First Chronicles. That’s the only mentioned of this person, but it’s been expanded upon so much.
It’s a wonderful prayer. I’m not saying that the principles of The Prosperity Movement are wrong. I’m saying that when we go too far in them and that’s all we preach. We put it in people’s mind that if this is what God’s going to do for you, that’s not necessarily true. The Bible also says that He raises one up and He puts another down. We’ve seen this throughout history. In every walk of life, He raises up one king, He raises up one giant in one field. God will move them away and bring someone else up. I had a guy ask me this after church. “What do you say to a person who’s been tithing for twenty years and they’re still waiting on that huge financial blessing?” I say, “First of all if we’re limiting God in what He says about blessing to just finances, we’re making a mistake.”
Secondly, for many tithers, they are givers. They think God’s supposed to be somehow a supernatural welfare program where they can spend money how they want to live and however they want and God’s going to bail them out because they give the first 10% of their income. God’s not a rescue for your bad stewardship. You might need to go to Dave Ramsey. If you don’t like Dave Ramsey, pick someone else. Go to a financial advisor somewhere and learn how to handle your money. You’re living above your means and then you’re looking at God saying, “God, why aren’t you blessing me?” Maybe it’s a blessing that you hadn’t lost your house, you’ve got your car, you’ve got your kids. Maybe God is blessing you more than you realize. Not everybody wants that answer from me.
Some people are good stewards and sometimes it goes bad. I don’t know the Bible well like you. Maybe when I was a kid, I’d probably knew that a lot better. Whenever I sit around feeling sorry for myself, and this is true, I’m having a crappy day or I lost a case or whatever, you’ve got a belligerent witness or client. I think about old Job. I say, “I could have it a lot worse.” This guy, according to the Book of Job, he did good works and he did everything God asked him and he still got dealt just a bad time and he kept coming back for more. There’s something to be said for that.God is blessing you more than you realize. Click To Tweet
There is and I was just reading that. You see those principles all throughout scripture. Living for Jesus isn’t like a get out of jail free card that no problems are ever going to come your way. James accounts it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds, when you face troubles, when you face test. God’s working in this. In fact, Jesus said you’re going to be hated because of me. You’re going to face issues, but we don’t like that part of life yet Jesus faced them. Jesus faced temptation. Jesus faced rejection. Jesus faced difficulties. We like to talk all of the wonderful stories about Jesus where He did the miracles and He was celebrated. He fed 5,000 and people were chanting His name and trying to make Him king. What about when the Bible says that Jesus couldn’t do miracles in certain cities? This is what the Bible says. He couldn’t do many miracles because of the people. It didn’t go well for Jesus. He left and went somewhere else. This is Jesus. That’s the case for Jesus. Not every day of my life is going to be people celebrating me and things going well. You get back up. You might kick the dust off your feet and keep moving.
When you preach, I’m sure there’s some type of scriptural basis that you’ll draw out and preach on. You try and draw that more from the New Testament, the Old Testament, a mix or could you even say?
I would say that I’m primarily a New Testament preacher. Understanding the New Testament when Jesus said, “I didn’t come to abolish the law. I came to fulfill the law.” We learned so much from the Old Testament that is good, that is needed, that is necessary, that should be taught, that should be preached. It’s the foundation. That was all before the cross. That was all before Jesus. I teach it and I preach it. I went through a number of different universities and Bible schools. I’ve taken Old Testament survey four separate times. We should and I’m not knocking people that are primarily Old Testament preachers.
A lot of people are honestly walking down the street, even if they’re not Christians, could tell you a one-liner out of the Old Testament. I know you’re not going to subscribe to this, but my view is the Old Testament is just a bunch of cool stories. If that was the law in these allegorical stories, we need to follow thousands of years later in our lives, then why are we Christians? We wouldn’t be following the teachings of the Son of God. That’s what the distinction is for me. I know I’ve dumbed it down and put it all wrong.
Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law. He didn’t come to do away with the Old Testament, but he gave us a new covenant in a different way. Jesus boiled the laws down to love the Lord your God and love your neighbor as yourself. This is what he boiled it down to. If you take the 633 or so Laws of Moses, what can you boil them down to? It’s very simple. Love God and love your neighbor. Jesus didn’t say, “You can steal and you can murder.” He said, “If you’ll understand that I came and this covenant and this life that I’m bringing you, love God, love people.” If you love God and you love people, that dictates a lot of these laws that were given to teach people how to live if you live through this New Testament lens. The Old Testament is the foundation of so much. You don’t fully understand the New Testament unless you understand the Old Testament, that we get pieces of it. The more you understand about the Old Testament, there are more dimensions and truths and revelations that you would get about what the New Testament means and how it applies.
Do people still read the Bible? I don’t mean that as a facetious question.
I believe more people are reading the Bible now than ever before. Apps, specifically, there’s a Bible app and it’s in many different languages. It’s a free app. The church out of Oklahoma built it, gives it away and people support it from all around the world to get it translated into other languages. For instance, at our church, we do lots of Bible-reading programs and we use this app for everything. You create community around reading the Bible. Do I think people sit down with a paper Bible and sit down at the table before dinner and read scripture? No, I don’t. In my world, more people are reading scriptures in some form than probably they ever have and it comes back to access to information.
Do you think that’s driven primarily by third world countries or do you think in America more people are reading?
More people I know are reading the Bible than I remember when I grew up. I still think people with paper Bibles are going to get into heaven first.
I still have one with my name monogrammed on it from when I was about six years old.
If you bring your paper Bible to church over Sunday, you’re getting in first. If you’re an Apple user, you’re getting in second, then everybody else comes in third.
It makes me a little nervous though because it was before I was adopted. My last name wasn’t Byrd then. Am I still getting in first?
I think you’re getting in.
I couldn’t tell you the last time I picked up the Bible and just read it. There was a family that lived across the street from me when I was a kid. I walked to school all the time, but Mrs. Franklin, she had four kids, three girls and a son. We were all within about two years in age. She’d give me a ride to school. If I went to school with them, I had to come over in the morning. Mrs. Franklin doesn’t have a TV in her house. Every morning before we went to school, we all sat in a circle and we had to read out loud, taking turns, I don’t know how many verses. We had read two chapters at least or she wouldn’t drive us to school. I don’t think she has threatened us that way, but we read a whole lot of the Bible that way. A couple of chapters a day, steady at it.
I encourage people to just start. The Bible app, when you open it up, it has a verse of the day and it will send you an alert on your phone. I can’t tell you how many times I read it every day, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ll be in the middle of some situation. I’ll remember that verse that popped up on my phone at 7:00 in the morning. I think reading any amount of scripture is better than reading none.
Does it ever change for you? If you picked up your Bible five years ago and you still have that same Bible when you read the same verse, the words have not changed. Otherwise, does that ever change for you? Does the meaning ever change? What’s trying to be taught change? I ask that because a lot of what I do is driven by what we call case law and its precedential history. There are opinions by judges on various courts given down over the years and it builds a body of law, which as you read it and study it. Over the years you almost get a gut instinct of generally what might happen. It changes based on different appointments to different courts. It changes at a federal level, on a state level. Different judges get elected. It changes based on society. A lot of times in my business, cultures, society, views on things may change, but it takes us a while to catch up because we’re always looking at the past. This is how we’ve done it. When you read the Bible, does it change?The Bible is very much a living thing. It's changing. Click To Tweet
The principles of the word of God don’t change. It’s why the Bible has stood for thousands of years. If you go all the way back to the Old Testament, many thousands of years, the Pentateuch, which is the first five books of the Bible, had been around for thousands of years, because the principles held within them do not change based off of society. With that said, the Bible is very much a living thing. It’s living and it’s changing. It is amazing to me how I will read a scripture. Maybe a scripture I’ve read a number of times in my life, but then all the sudden when I read it now, it has a way of applying directly to the situation I’m facing that maybe I didn’t see before or maybe I didn’t understand before. You can spend your lifetime studying the Bible and never know it all. I know way more than I did several years ago, but I am confident that in ten more years I’m going to know much more than I do now.
The more you study, the more you know about the Old Testament, the more it tells you about the New Testament. Scripture comes in layers. Jesus referred to them as the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. We get the first layer but sometimes, as you continue to study, you begin to continue to drill down on what Jesus might have been talking about. We can read something Jesus said and go, “I got what he said.” It might be right. You can go and study Jewish culture to the people he was talking about and now you can understand even more of what Jesus was saying. It doesn’t necessarily change what he’s saying. It gives you further understanding of what he was talking about.
It’s like that old onion example. You’re peeling back the layers of the onion.
No doubt about it. That’s the beautiful thing about the word of God is words that were spoken 4,000 years ago. Some of the words that were spoken by the Psalmists or you take the Book of Proverbs don’t even spiritualize it. You talk about the wisdom found within the Book of Proverbs that still applies now. If people would do what Solomon wrote, forget Christianity. I say this, understanding what I’m talking about here. Forget Jesus for a moment. Just apply to that and you’d have a whole lot fewer problems in your life because they’re still applicable even several thousands of years later.
Start by being nice to people.
When you talk about what a life should look like for someone that lives for Jesus, the fruits of the spirits. You probably learned it in Bible school as a kid. Love and joy and peace and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control. These things, there’s no law against them. This is how we should treat people.
Have you ever been on a podcast before?
This is my first podcast. They take our sermons and make them podcasts, but this is the first one I’ve ever done.
I am thankful that you’ve come to do this because I love you, Randon. It’s always a joy to see you. That doesn’t happen enough. I think you’d be great at it and you have a message that maybe you ought to consider doing one. I know you have all this free time.
I’ve had a good time and I appreciate you inviting me out and hopefully, your audience also. Maybe we said something that helped you and maybe gave you a different perspective on things. Maybe some people out there hate all preachers and think we’re all out to get your money.
They think that more about lawyers than preachers, but I’m not going to make that judgment. Randon, one more time, if someone wanted to find you or your church, where do they find you?
There it is. I’d keep him later and I could always talk to Randon for hours, but he’s got some pastoring to go do. Let’s do it again.
About Randon Clark
Randon and Lindsay are the Lead Pastors of both Triumph Nederland and Triumph Beaumont. After spending many years in youth ministry, they served as the campus pastors of Triumph Beaumont. In the summer of 2013, they completed their new sanctuary and became lead pastors of both campuses. Their heart is to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. With a driving passion, a call of God, a great team of leaders, and outstanding coaches in Bishop Randy and Pastor Renee’, they are poised to see God do great things in Southeast Texas.
Randon and Lindsay have two great kids, Kennedy and Randy, along with a dog, Marmaduke. Family is very important to them, so they are active in softball and baseball here in the area. When not at church, Lindsay is into girly things…shopping, pedicures, Starbucks, etc. Randon is a sports guy, most any kind will do. They love God, life, their family, their church, and Southeast Texas. They are committed to seeing great churches built in Southeast Texas.